Sunday, 18 August 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 21 - Part 87

Bray says, 

““By the present […] system, exchanges are not only not mutually beneficial to all parties, as the political economists have asserted, but it is plain […] that there is, in most transactions between the capitalist and the producer, […] no exchange whatever … what is it that the capitalist, whether he be manufacturer or banded proprietor gives […] for the labour of the working man? The capitalist gives no labour, for he does not work—he gives no capital, for his store of wealth is being perpetually augmented ...” (p 320) 

But, the capitalist does give the worker money wages to the value of the labour-power they buy, and money is exchange-value incarnate. It represents an amount of value/labour-time equal to the value of the labour-power. Here, both stand in relation to the other as commodity owners, and, contrary to Bray, they do so on the basis of mutual and equal benefit from the exchange. It is in the process of production that labour is exploited, not the process of exchange

Of course, as Marx has demonstrated, in Capital, because wages are paid in arrears, the labour of the worker, may already have been consumed, and its product sold, prior to the wages being paid. In that case, it is truly the case that these wages are paid by labour rather than capital. Moreover, once the capital turns over, the wages, along with the consumed materials, are paid for out of the proceeds of the sale of the commodity, rather than out of any additional advance of capital

““The whole transaction […] between the producer and the capitalist, is a palpable deception, a mere farce” (loc. cit., p. 50).” (p 320) 

The law requiring accumulation is only part fulfilled, therefore, Bray says, because this accumulation only occurs in the hands of, and for the benefit of the capitalists. The workers who produce the wealth are dependent upon the capitalists who have the means of production and consumption concentrated in their hands, and so are dependent on them in order to live. 

“and this is a condition so contrary to the very intention of society—so revolting to reason … that it cannot for one moment be palliated or defended. It confers on man a power which ought to be vested in nothing mortal” (loc. cit., p. 52).” (p 321) 

Bray shows that it would have been impossible for anyone to have accumulated even £1,000 of capital purely from saving of past labour. It is only by appropriating the labour of others that such capital accumulation is possible. Both labour and capital (past labour) are required for production, but it is the capital that is required not the capitalist. 

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